MADISON, Wis. - As Chief Kristen Roman swore in three new police officers, it was symbolic of a new beginning for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department. The three officers join the department the same week Chief Roman assumed the leadership role.
“You know for me it really did symbolize in the best way possible a new chapter, a new beginning,” Roman said.
While new in her role as chief, her history in law enforcement goes back 26 years with the Madison Police Department. She rose to the rank of captain and oversaw the creation of a Mental Health Officer program that is now being modeled by agencies around the country.
Roman also took community policing beyond a catch phrase. She became a fixture at community and organization meetings, and that strong connection to the community became a cornerstone of her career.
“I think it really is the only way I know how to do the work. It is the lens through which I operate and view my role at any rank. I think that just looks different, slightly different depending on what my particular role or assignment is at the time. But for me, that has always been the thread through my entire career,” says Chief Roman.
While her experience in law enforcement in Madison is an asset, she knows only too well what she doesn’t know.
“First, I have a priority to listen. I am stepping into, not an unknown territory, but there certainly are things I know that I will want to learn about, like the unique aspects of community policing within a campus community," Roman said.
While she enters her first week as chief of the UW-Madison Police Department, her roots with the university run very deep.
“It is like coming home to me. I started out here in Madison at the university. That is really what brought me to Madison was the university and of course the sport of volleyball and playing in the field house. I have fond memories and I can’t step into the field house to this day without going back in time for a few moments," Roman said.
Now coming full circle, she will write a new chapter. Carrying with her 26 years of experience she will help guide the future in a place so important to her past.
“To have the opportunity to join, not just a great police department, but a great university team is really everything," Roman said.
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